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Obfuscation, Learning, and the Evolution of Investor Sophistication

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  • Bruce Ian Carlin
  • Gustavo Manso

Abstract

Investor sophistication has lagged behind the growing complexity of retail financial markets. To explore this, we develop a dynamic model to study the interaction between obfuscation and investor sophistication. Taking into account different learning mechanisms within the investor population, we characterize the optimal timing of obfuscation for financial institutions who offer retail products. Obfuscation decreases with competition among firms, but increases with higher investor participation in the market. We show that educational initiatives that are directed to facilitate learning by investors may induce producers to increase wasteful obfuscation, further disorienting investors and decreasing overall welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Ian Carlin & Gustavo Manso, 2009. "Obfuscation, Learning, and the Evolution of Investor Sophistication," NBER Working Papers 14954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14954
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    Cited by:

    1. Victor Mendes & Margarida Abreu, 2014. "The Investor in Structured Retail Products: Marketing Driven or Gambling Oriented?," EcoMod2014 6621, EcoMod.

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    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance

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